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tv   The Beat With Ari Melber  MSNBC  February 23, 2024 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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thank you for spending this friday with us and for welcoming me as i sat in for nicolle. i hope you're going to join us tomorrow for "the weekend" with my co-hosts. on saturday we'll talk to james claiborne and on sunday former cia director john brennen will be with us. i hope you join us for "the weekend" saturday and sunday 8:00 a.m. eastern right here on msnbc. the beat with ari melber starts right now. >> welcome to the beat. i'm ari melber. and we're following this breaking news. just moments ago a huge
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legal loss for the national rifle association or nra. a new york jury found it liable for corruption, basically financial mismanagement that went all the way to the top. the former ceo lepierre corruptly managing the organization. he's ordered to pay $5 millions because of money the xi found was misspent, millions that went to basically perks, personal spending, lavish lifestyle, trips, yachts, jets, you name it to seemed he was sending the money that way. and the new york attorney general who brought this case might seem familiar. she's been in the news recently for a string of victories. i'm talking about a.g. letitia james. and this suit dates all the way back to 2020. she and her team have been working on it for four years. it is a major rebuke to the nra at a time when many have asked just how america's gun laws got to this point, why a country
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that has overwhelming 60% support for, for example basic common sense gun safety can't get those measures passed on a federal basis. if you follow this issue at all you know the nra is a big, big part of that. while this isn't a rejection of their legal views on gun viwill policy, it certainly raises major questions about what the nra has been doing for years with its own funds and whether it truly represents most gun owners in america. that's why this is a big case in many ways beyond even the restitution and the big loss by the nra's former head there. i want to bring in two of our legal reporters on this. i'm going to suggest, lisa, you tell us about the ruling, and emily, you tell us about how the nra and some their legal allies have really shaped secondary judas prudence in this country.
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if it's an organization that has corruption problems as founds moments ago by a jury, that would seem to have some impact on the wilder gun conversation especially with the many mass shootings we live through and cover here. so starting with the courtroom this case went four years. what happened tonight? >> tonight, ari, a couple of things happened. one, and most importantly, a jury of six people in new york found that a new york charitable organization, the national rifle association, was corruptly managed for a period that lasted eight years and that there were a number of individuals responsible starting with its long time executive vice president wayne lepierre who's as identify wbl the nra as charles heston in this country. and the way in which according to the attorney general he stuck his hands in the nra's cookie jar he now owes the nra itself $5.4 million. while he has repaid some of what he took, the jury also found he had only paid back roughly a
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million dollars. so that's $4.4 million wayne lepierre will have to bring back to the nra's coughers. he had had a post. employment contract with the nra that entitled him to $18 million when he left. he resigned from the nra right before this trial. he testified he would give up that sum of money. so in terms of wayne lepierre's own resources to fulfill this judgment, this may more difficult than it seems even though the sums of money are not the kind of gargantuan funds we talk about. >> as you say large sums of money and it cuts to the heart of what the nra is. is it as it has long claimed to be an institution primarily representing the view of most gun owners in america, and guns are legal, and the supreme court has found them constitutionally
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protected. or are they something else? are they something more fringe or changed over the years? or as the new york attorney general said and it took four years to win this case roughly that there were some other problems afoot, which meant they weren't really as actively engaged on the gun issues but kind of becoming a self-perpetuating piggy bank. >> absolutely. and the jury really bought, ari, the evidence that the attorney general presented in terms of the related party transactions. and for anybody at home thinking what is a related party transaction, that means they did business with people who are related to people in the organization or had an interest in financially those transactions. there were scores and scores of them. so in addition to the fact that people like wayne lepierre were putting their hands in the cookie jar, they were also returning money to their cousins and friends and spouses by virtue of the contracts that they were entering into. it was much less a mom and pop
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stand up for the rights of gun owners in america organization than it had become an elitist slush fund for the people running it and very few others. >> emily, people around the country of varying views, varying ideologies when you poll them say, well, there are some certain things we should do to have better gun safety. nra is a chief reason why that hasn't happened, is it not? >> absolutely. it has had a report card for members of congress, for members of state legislatures about how they vote on gun issues and has really succeeded in moving the american government to the right. and so things like bans on assault weapons or even background checks that were easier to pass 20 years ago have become really difficult. and that has been a lot of the nra's success. obviously the supreme court decision finding that there's an individual right to bear arms in the second amendment are
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relevant here, too, and the nra's part of electing republicans who then choose very conservative supreme court justices on gun rights. so they've had a great deal of influence. and the question is will that change now that the organization has been brought low and these allegations of corruption the jury has found are warranted, are true? >> yeah. and so, emily, for folks making sense of this, how much do you think this -- this impact stretches beyond just sort of the current leadership structure and the larger gun rights movement if they're being sort of hobbled this way? >> i think it's important. we've already seen membership decline in the nra. i think a lot of members lost faith their dues were being put to good use, so they're just not paying up anymore. one would expect another organization to step in here, right? if there really are so many gun owners in america that want this kind of representation and the
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nra is hobbled, then you would think another group would try to occupy that space. but that might take a while. it takes a while for our nonprofits to gain influence like this. and then the question becomes do the elected representatives, does it matter there isn't someone giving them this report card and score? are they already so bought in on their views and so dug in on protecting gun rights that they'll just keep going? >> it is a fascinating window into how the organization worked because, again, as i've said before plenty of debate you could have how to have gun safety. different countries do it different ways. but what's been prosecuted in this case and some other reporting is how distorted that's been in america. and now you learn the people at the top weren't actually -- they're more concerned about their jets than somebody's guns in ohio, it makes you think about what they're incentives were and were nay different than even their own membership.
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this is big, big win for the attorney general. we wanted to get on the record there as our top story. and our thanks to you for kicking that off. here we are on a friday night with a lot of news. there's a south carolina primary tomorrow you may have heard. howard dean, former presidential candidate, is going to get into that with us. by the end of the hour, batman actor, you might know jeffrey wright will be here to talk about a new film and his first ever oscar nomination. i'm so thrilled to welcome jeffrey wright to the beat. coming up next after our shortest break, i have my presentation to you of why this fraud loss and these debts that donald trump owes are fundamentally different than ever before. my special report we've been working on this week when we're back in 60 seconds. s week when back in 60 seconds effects, including ketoacidosis that may be fatal, dehydration, urinary tract, or genital yeast infections, and low blood sugar. a rare, life-threatening bacterial infection in the skin of the perineum could occur. stop taking farxiga and call your doctor right away
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if you have symptoms of this infection, an allergic reaction, or ketoacidosis. ♪ far-xi-ga ♪ turning to our legal break down. defendant trump is scrambling to face many legal cases. tonight he filed several motions trying to get the jack smith classified documents case
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dismissed. so that's going on over on the criminal side. but trump's other legal losses are having the kind of deep impact on him, his business, and his campaign in ways that i can tell you as a factual matter he has never faced before. in our break down i'm going to show you this, but first i'm going to show you kind of the mood and how it's all piled up, and it's easy to lose track of all the losses which are straining his business, cutting into pro-trump political spending at this very moment he needs a war chest for the primary and if he's the nominee, for a general election. >> do you think paying for president trump's legal bills is that that is of interest to republican voters? >> absolutely. >> that's laura trump talking about the financing part of this, and we're going to get to that, but let me walk you through the numbers. over 600 million there is are his total losses. that's a quarter of what donald trump has, according to the estimates including by the new york state which prosecuted this
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case, of course. but trump's not acting like someone who can afford to pay up. he's on the line for over $350 million as you see there in the fraud loss plus literally $100 million in interest plus all those other costs, and the judge is not letting trump deal through his usual delay tactics in new york. fratly rejecting this request for a recent delay. as a losing defendant donald trump must put down money for all of this even if he appeals. now attorney general james has warned she will seize assets and buildings if he tries to duck the debt. and here's where all of this cuts into the campaign. trump has been passing along some of these legal bills right onto his supporters. there is a political action committee that he is involved with, and they have actually taken not one or two or $3 million, not 10 or $15 million, but $50 million in lawyer bills. okay, that's last year, and it keeps on coming. another $3 million just in last month alone. so we have that sound i wanted
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to show you and now with some context because a trump family member who is seeking a role to run the party, laura trump, says republicans are interested, she thinks, in covering these bills. >> do you think paying for president trump's legal bills is something that is of interest to republican voters? >> absolutely. >> and here's why we're showing you that. she is not just a random family member. she's trying to come into basically a leadership position in the whole rnc, and she's out there saying everyone will pay for this. maybe she's afraid, i don't know. she doesn't happen to have the whole story, and that's part of this break down i want to share right now because there are a couple of problems with her claim that republican volters want to fund this. first, the basic political math. every dollar that trump takes away from campaign operations for his personal debts cost the campaign and the party. in other words, it might personally enrich him, and you
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might say is that even fair, how is that even legal? even if he does that, right, that means that dollar or that $50 million doesn't go towards trying to win the election this year. so might be good news for trump's bank account but it's bad news for trump the candidate and the republican party. that brings me to this, an rnc official is trying to clean this up, telling politico that their budget doesn't allocate any money to those trump legal fees saying i don't think it's appropriate for the rnc committee there to pay the legal bills for filings or things, quote, done outside the work of the committee. so what you see there even in this environment where we hear the talking points and conventional wisdom about how all republicans belong with trump and they'll do whatever he says or they'll even fund his personal debts and lifestyle, you actually see push back. you see the rnc saying, hold on, even if he's the nominee we don't want to pay for all of this. and then there's the strain showing. because the current campaign is actually in the red. finances show, quote, an
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alarming picture particularly the would-be donors who aren't eager to subsidize trump's legal challenges, that in a nonpartisan report in the a. p. a financial outlet they're not particularly pro or anti-trump but they note the spending he's been doing is more than the raising he's been doing. and as they put it quite simply, meanwhile the pac, quote, helped on legal fees. so even if trump can cover some debts this way, his personal gain is coming very clearly at a loss to the campaign and the party. i told you there are a couple of reasons. that was all just reason number one why it's bad for them politically because they're wasting money towards what would go to winning in november. second, winning the party's bank for these bills is unpopular even for many republicansch that's why when i showed you laura trump claimed republicans might be open to doing, we're learning that that idea, that
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the rnc would cover the bills, is actually too risky maybe too dumb for even trump's advisers to get onboard. they're publicly insisting they won't take any rnc money to cover these legal bills. they say the fund-raising entities including the leadership pac save america will cover it along with him. so what's going on here? again, this is little different than the talking points and conventional wisdom out there. turns out there's a real clash here. the trump team is trying to deny what laura trump even said because they understand how bad this looks. they don't want the rnc and its members to see trump as a kind of a needy deadbeat like the boyfriend beyonce famously had to ditch over bills in the song "bills bills bills." >> i'm sick of you coming in here asking for my keys. you trifling. take them. i'm sick of you.
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>> why you buggin? >> but beyonce was not bugging. she knew her value. while many can recall that chorus can you pay my bills, remember in the song she details the long con of a deadbeat scrub. might sound familiar to some in politics right now. at first things started out cool, taking me places, she recounts. but then the con emerges, beyonce explaining you're making me pay for things that your money should be handling. you have the audacity to step to me asking me to hold money from me until you get your next check. now, who really wants a partner like that? not beyonce or her character in that song and not the rnc which is now publicly skeptical of taking republican party money which comes from republican voters and donors, which is for campaigns -- they have a big one this november. and taking that away from republicans to just cover debts
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over donald trump's court losses over his own personal business. and trump's team is thuz emphasizing they would never take the rnc's money for these bills, bills, bills. now, that doesn't mean trump wants to pay it. they have a plan to take that money from other donors and the pac donors instead of the rnc. so we do get back to the same question. can you pay my legal bills? then maybe we could chill. all right, that might be enough beyonce-ification of the news tonight. it's not only important, it's actually different from this d.c., maga-friendly narrative we hear nothing touches trump or he'll find a way out or he'll throw other people's money at it. you take it all together here and here's what's happening. trump's legal losses are cutting into his finances. their hobbling his business. they're draining his political operation of funds that would otherwise go to november, his re-election and other republicans on the ticket. they're straining his
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arrangement with the rnc, which clearly has some limit on what it wants to do in subsidizing a republican even a former president's personal bills from business. and that everything i just said and walked you through is from the civil cases alone. none of this reaches the more serious matter of the four -- four pending criminal trials the former president also faces. that is our break down. let me tell you what else is coming up tonight. award winning actor jeffrey wright on his new oscar nomination for this really interesting satire film "american fiction." but first why some trump critics including one we heard from this week say they're going to leave the country if he wins. across bipolar depression. unlike some medicines that only treat bipolar i, caplyta treats both bipolar i and ii depression. and in clinical trials, movement disorders and weight gain were not common.
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i am your justice. and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, i am your retribution. i am your retribution. >> donald trump's open talk about retribution has not only his critics but even some of his former colleagues, aides, and trump administration officials considering up and leaving the country if he wins again and that includes someone we know well around here, art of the deal coauthor tony schwartz. >> i see him as immensely dangerous because he will be so much freer to pursue his personal agenda if he's re-elected, and there is no
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question about what that agenda is now, which is to be an authoritarian leader, to have complete control. as we learned this morning, to deport people and to create detention camp. i actually have made the decision -- i've shared with my friends if trump's re-elected, i'm leaving. i'm leaving the united states. why? because i don't feel safe. >> schwartz announcing that on this program wednesday. the camps that he seems to mention refer to blueprints for border, camps or deportations on a more militarized basis than the u.s. normally does. we covered cpac this week which used to actually be a place where conservatives debated candidates and ideas. it has been completely maga-ified. wh we talk about learning from history where people made rhetoric more and more extreme whether that was against other people to dehumanize them or against democracy that used to
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operate and then changed, let's be serious when we hear people admit their agenda. >> welcome. welcome. i just wanted to say welcome to the end of democracy. we're hear to overthrow it completely. we didn't get there on january 6th, but we'll endeavor to get rid of it. >> we didn't get all the way there on january 6th. we hear a lot of talk and here it's friday night. if you're a little fatigued and burnt out of people telling you every election is an important one, i get it. we're also seeing and hearing what people admit the agenda is. so it's not an unimportant election at the very minimum. our next guest he's made some of these warnings, he's run for president, run a national party. and he's here on all of this next. national party. and he's here on all of this next
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the economy is simply not working for millions of hard working families. they're working harder than ever and they still can't make enough to get by to afford food and medicine to even keep a roof over their heads. we need to build more housing that's truly affordable. we need to address this terrible epidemic of homelessness.
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we need to invest in good paying jobs, union jobs and investments in our future. this, this is why i'm running for the us senate. i'm adam schiff and i approve this message. i am in this fight. i will take the bruises. i will take the cuts. this is going to be messy. on sunday i'm headed to michigan, and then we're going to super tuesday states. and we're going to keep ongoing. >> nikki haley campaigning as voters go to the polls in her home state of south carolina tomorrow in this primary. trump has a lead in those polls. "the wall street journal" says haley makes her case to keep running, she also has the cash. over $16 million raised last
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month alone while trump is barrelling towards wasting money designed for political spending on his own debts as we covered earlier in the hour. we're joined now by former presidential candidate and dnc chair howard dean. welcome, howard. happy friday. >> thanks for having me. >> great to have you. i've observed and told viewers that the beltway narrative is often wrong, but it's pretty insistent. the maga narrative is of course only designed to protect donald trump at all costs no matter what. and those narratives have combined to sort of treat this primary that's barely begun as somehow over. losing your home state obviously would be bad. we'll see what the voters say tomorrow. but what you do think about haley saying she'll stay until super tuesday and beyond and especially what donald trump is up against legally and otherwise the republican party might want to keep its options open. >> i think that's exactly what's going on here. haley at this point is the only
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other option. she stuck it out. i'd do exactly what she's doing. she does have to win a state someplace. but the truth is if she keeps doing reasonably well and gets a few delegates, which she hasn't done -- she's barely done yet. then i think she hangs in until august because trump is a marked man. he's in trouble. as you pointed out he has four criminal trials coming up. he's already in hot for $400 million to new york state, and there's another trial that's going to go on there. he is a marked man, and i think haley is being very, very smart. she could become the nominee by default. >> interesting. i want you to hang with me. i wanted to get your opening remarks before we involve someone who's got, you know, a history of skin in the game, rob godfried was a top aid to governor haley and has not endorsed governor haley. ewe want to get his perspective.
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what do you think your former boss' strengthens are in this primary even if she doesn't carry her home state tomorrow? >> well, first of all, thanks for having me. next, you know, she's approached this -- you know, this campaign in her home state the way she's approached the campaign in the first two early nominating states and in the way way i believe she'll approach it in michigan, which is to meet as many voters as possible, look them right in the eye, and talk to them about the issues they care about because that's what early state voters demand and expect. and governor dean can tell you that. she has done -- she's gone through many of the motions that president trump has not -- has not gone through in south carolina. she's held a robust bus tour. she's been on television. she's been in the mailboxes. she's been knocking on doors. and we're going to see what kind of difference that makes, whether that cuts into the margins and the conventional wisdom in the beltway that we've
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seen so far. and this race feels like it's a little -- >> let me jump in, rob. you're saying it might be closer. we'll find out soon enough in that state. let me play for you what nikki haley is saying about trying to tie trump to biden with the republican electorate. you can see some of the moves she's trying to do. take a listen. >> okay. >> 70% of americans don't want a trump-biden rematch. they're the two most disliked politicians in america. and donald trump can't win a general election. don't take my word for it. look at any of the general election polls. >> is that working, and is this an electorate that does fact checking, that goes and consults the polls and comes back? is this a good approach for her do you think? >> you know, i think it's an approach that makes sense for her right now insofar as, you
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know, the data shows she's a better general election candidate than president trump in some areas on some days. but in a primary, which, again, governor dean is an expert on, in a primary you have a lot of emotion that drives voters. and when emotion drives voters things like electability those kinds of arguments fall on deaf ears. and quite frankly, donald trump he has found a way over the last three presidential cycles to weaponize grievance and anger that has come to define the republican party base. he's done so effectively against, you know, a variety of opponents. and so those arguments that are more rational than they are emotional, you know, are tougher to land and tougher to peel voters off of a guy who peel people have become comfortable
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supporting in the -- over the last three presidential cycles. >> howard? >> i think that's true. what i would -- in addition to say is i don't see a tremendous amount of evidence that trump has a terrific organization. and i don't know if haley does or not because obviously i'm not following their primary as closely as i would one of my own. but i think rob is correct, the closer you get to the election, the more rationality may creep in. trump is an irrational human being and his audience is and his voters are bar and large being irrational. the truth is the largest deficit in the history of the united states of america was run up by donald trump who cut taxes to help his wealthy friends and didn't do a damn thing for the people out there screaming and yelling to vote for him. people are going to figure that eventually. i do have faith in the american voters, and haley's got to capitalize on that. she's got to hang in there, and
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i don't know anything about her organization, but it better be a good one because she does have to mobilize her voters. we've not seen the reckoning yet that could happen if we have to stay within catching distance in the next couple of primaries. >> yeah, it'll be very interesting, and msnbc viewers may have seen we had the box up for rachel and steve kornacki along with the gang covering at 6:30 p.m. eastern tomorrow. howard might keep a partial eye on it. howard saturday night you're not going to be glued to the screen. you have a life. >> no. >> appreciate your time. let me tell folks what's coming up because fox newsreely stepped in it on the trump sneaker pedaling a kind of stereotype we've heard many times. jeffrey wright has a very interesting satire about so much of this. it goes way beyond politics. we'll be getting into all of that next. l be getting into allf that next. and here.
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i'm adding downy unstopables to my wash. now i'll be smelling fresh all day long. [sniff] still fresh. ♪♪ get 6x longer-lasting freshness, plus odor protection. try for under $5! our next story is not about trump's new gold sneakers, which a fox news guest argued would, quote, appeal to black voters drawing rebukes for blatant and clumsy stereotype. fox is pushing a right-wing political agenda there obviously, but desire yotyping and blind spots in our society are actually much broader because the instinct to reduce the black experience is not confined to the political right or to maga-related antics.
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in fact, across many fields from business to culture to publishing and hollywood, places which are often seen as somehow more liberal than conservative, still events a pretty narrow views of what does constitute the black experience or the extent truly black stories are centered at all. it's something spike lee raised in his classic "do the right thing." >> man, ask sal, right. >> that movie is 35 years old. some things have changed but today hollywood does not put all that many black leaders on the proverbial wall, if you will. under 4% of top movie directors are black these days. and when black led art or culture does prove popular, it may make it into some pretty big projects. but even then it can be done in a way that involves sort of
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sampling or co-opting or a kind of swiping that leaves out many of the original creators. that was a point made in the film "bring it on." >> every time we get something here y'all come to steal it, putting some blonde hair on it and calling it something different. >> so where do we go from here? well, there are media companies which we should note argue they're trying to confront these dilemmas. it was all the way back in 2013 megan kelly had her media scandal for proclaiming the fictional character santa must be, quote, white. it was only recently disney made a little permaid that featured a black actress centering people in a different way. fictional characters mattering to real people. i can mention streaming services now mention dedicated pages for what are called black voices, black perspective, or black stories. and companies from media wall
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street are trying to expand diversity programs especially since the blm protest of 2020. but the dei programs sometimes propelled in that era have now been targeted on the right. the supreme court limited them on campuses by going after affirmative action. when it comes to public perception, we know what people think about all this is of course shaped by media and culture. so diversifying and refining these spaces can matter. oprah famously shifted people's views with her show and then her book club. and that brings us to something important tonight. this new film "american fiction" which explores diversity, exclusion, and racial double-talk in the rarefied literary world. and it follows a smart, insightful, and rebellious water who chafes at how such enlighted liberal spacing publishing or academia are filled with so much b.s. or racial hypocrisy.
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the lead played by batman star jeffrey wright. >> i'm a doctor. >> so am i. >> maybe we need to revise a sentence. >> this is he. >> yeah, god damage. >> enemies see each other better than friends. >> these books have nothing to do with african american studies. they're just literature. the blackest thing about this one is the ink. >> the character there reflecting on the sort of bookstore stereotyping or even, you know, commercial segregation of that blank ink text. jeffrey wright as you see on the screen is an emmy, tony winning actor and nominated now for an oscar for best actor on this project. i think "american fiction" has five oscar nominations. jeffrey, we can get to the awards. it's interesting because the
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film looks at the comodification of prestige awards as well. tell us about it. >> first, i just want to say i'm so glad, ari, the way you led into this because, yes, our film is about a writer and he's frustrated by the limitations that are attempted to be imposed upon him by the publishing world. but the film is not limited in its scope. we're talking about representation in a broad way and the ways in which we are misperceived, we misunderstand one another, we misunderstand race, and therefore we make very little progress in trying to overcome some of the historic ills that have led to the injustices we're all aware of on some level even if we try to dismiss them. but the film is about a guy who -- who writes things that
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don't necessarily fly off the shelves. he has interests of his own specific to him. he happens to write at times about greek mythology and revisiting old text. and those books aren't perceived as being black enough. and so out of frustration he decides to write, you know, a street novel, a novel, ari, that you would appreciate. and that -- he does it dismissively. he does it to mock the genre and also does it to mock the hypocrisy in the publishing world and it becomes his best selling novel. meanwhile he's written it under an assumed name, and he's forced to kind of lead this weird double life, and our story flows from there. >> yeah, and it's -- i'm so curious how you do it as an actor. we're not going to do total spoilers here, but we have an another clip where you're an actor playing a writer who now has to do some casual acting, so
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i don't even know how you prepare to show that to evince that double layer. although, i couldn't help but watch it and think about the famous essay double consciousness in black life and the way that there is acting and performance throughout society. so i'll let you respond to all of that, but let's show the viewers here that moment from the movie. >> we're both very excited to discuss thompson watts' offer. >> yes, let me just say we're all excited here at thompson watt thrilled about it. it is about as perfect a book i have seen in a long, long while. just raw and real. mr. lee, is this -- is this based on your actual life? >> you think some college boy can come up with that. >> no, no i don't. >> tell us about that. >> yeah, that was good fun to play because it was an opportunity, yes, to play this duality, but i was particularly
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in the scene like that on the phone playing one thing with the voice, but the body and the eyes are saying something else. there's a kind of self-awareness and a self-criticism that was really nice. but at the same time, there is a moment in which he appears in public to have a meeting and he has to play this role. and what i did for that really was reference gene wilder and richard pryor in a movie called "silver streak" in which they're in a bathroom in a train station. they're fugitives and trying to evade the police, and pryor with some shoe polish and like a jamaican beanie is trying to coach gene wilder on being black. it's one of the funniest scenes i have ever seen in film. i absolutely reference that. i don't often reference other films and performances but i certainly did for that because
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it's a pretty good one. so yeah, it was good fun playing that. i also wanted to make sure he wasn't necessarily the best actor on the show. he's a good writer but not necessarily that good of a performer. that was good fun as well. >> do you think that many people, be it black americans or other people around the world, could also relate to that idea, to be accomplished and still have to perform various versions or dare i say shades of race for real audiences, not fictional audiences? >> i think what has been interesting about our story and the ways that audiences have received it is that yes, it's told from the perspective of my character. it's about a man who wants to be seen for his authentic self. he happens to be a black man an racial biases or misconceptions out there in the world, but that
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experience is not solely one that you have to be black to have. i think we all desire to be seen for who we are. we all desire to be affirmed. we all want to be our authentic selves and live from that perspective. so there's a universality baked into this. for example, i didn't when i was a kid watch, for example, dustin hoffman in a movie and feel myself separate from that character. i could find myself inside his work because he was good, and i appreciated his story. i don't understand necessarily that there have to be limitations simply because a film is told from a black perspective that it does not have accessibility within it for all of us. and this film has really been wonderful because people across backgrounds have identified not only with that aspect of the film but also and particularly, and this was the aspect of the film that i was so drawn to on
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an emotional and psychological level, that's the portrait of this family and a man who is at that phase in his life where he's disabused of the idea that life gets easier as you get older, after a series of crises, he's asked to be the adult inside his family, a family -- >> let me show you one more thing. the family part is also in there. the last thing i wanted to show you was a 22-year-old artist talking about these issues as well. before i lose you because it's a live interview, this is an old clip from a 22-year-old describing some of the commodification of culture that the film explores. >> all society is doing is leaching off the ghetto. they use the ghetto for their pain, for their sorrow, for their culture, for their music. for their happiness, for their movies, to talk about boys in the hood, you know what i'm saying i don't want to be 50 years old at a b.e.t. we shall
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overcome achievement awards. you know what i'm saying? not me. >> i was really reminded of that with some of the themes. we have about a minute left. anything else you want to say about the family as well as your response to a 22-year-old tupac discussing the entertainment complex. >> yeah, no, i think the two are related. yeah, that's absolutely the case that there is a simplification of certain forms of representation. that allow, i think, when these things happened to crass over, they allow an audience to feel themselves superior to but therefore they can digest. it happened at the beginning of cinema in america. it happened at the beginning of theater performance in america with black face minstrel, and we're seeing if you look back at the history, you can see a trajectory from that early form
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of representation that allowed a larger audience to have a dismissive view on a people. we can see the trajectory to this day. our film makes commentary about that. the reason i think the family is so critical is because what it is is in some ways an answer to the simplification and the tropes and stereotypes because it's simply a man at the center of his world being ordinarily human. being a caretaker to his mother, having to deal with the dysfunction and the strange love that is family, just like anyone else across backgrounds, across the world, has to do at some point in their lives. for me, that's why i talk about it, and that's why it was so moving to me because it's beautiful. and it's universal. >> i'm over on time or i would go longer. it's american fiction. jeffrey wright, thanks for
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